Disclaimer: "The West Wing" and its characters do not belong to me. They belong to Aaron Sorkin, NBC, etc. This is just for fun out of a love for the show. No profit is made and no infringement is intended.
* * * At the Pleasure of the President: Part 2/3 * * *
Since the Senior Staff members had to work late, their costumes were delivered directly to their offices.
C.J. now stood outside of Toby's office, banging on the door in frustration. "Toby! Open the door! The party is starting soon!"
From behind the door, came Toby's response. "No! I am not going out there looking like a reject from the Barnum and Bailey Circus."
C.J. sighed, shaking her head. "I'm sure it's not as bad as you think."
Toby grumbled, as he surveyed his appearance in the mirror hanging on the closet door in his office. "It's worse than I think."
C.J. banged her fist against the door again, as she finally lost her patience. "If you want sympathy, then you've got the wrong gal! I am standing here with the word 'CRAYOLA' written all the way down my body, for heaven's sake!"
Toby smirked, as he suddenly felt the urge to see C.J. in her crayon costume. He walked over to the door and slowly opened it up. The laugh that was seldom heard, erupted from his mouth as he took her in.
C.J. had on a bright red foam costume that encircled her thin body. The word 'CRAYOLA' was written down it in big, bold black letters. Atop her head, sat a pointy red hat that served as the tip of the crayon...She had never looked or felt more ridiculous in her life.
A scowl immediately appeared on C.J.'s face, as Toby struggled to stifle his laughter. He managed an insincere, "You...look...nice. Are you supposed to be a fire hydrant?"
Toby quickly tried to close the door, but C.J. stuck her foot in between it and the frame to prevent him from doing so. She then forced the door open and perused him as he had done to her.
It was C.J.'s turn to almost double over in laughter.
Toby was wearing a cotton jumper, with multicolored polka dots on a yellow background. Four big red pompoms ran down his chest and a white ruffled collar surrounded his neck. On his feet he wore enormous, red plastic shoes. A curly pink wig sat atop his head and a red rubber nose was at the center of his face.
Toby rolled his eyes in agitation at C.J., his arms folded across his chest and his lips curled into a frown. "C.J., this is NOT funny...This is in no way funny!"
C.J. took a deep breath and smiled. "Oh yes, it is. On a list of 'Top Ten Funny Things', this would be number one."
"Oh, I am so glad that you are amused at my expense...I should have expected as much."
C.J. sighed. "Why is it okay for you to laugh at me, but not me at you?"
"Because I don't respond well to ridicule." Toby replied.
C.J. laughed. "Well, you better get used to it...You're a walking target tonight."
Toby growled at C.J., but she continued anyway. "Although, you'd be a better target and a better clown with a little make-up."
Toby's eyes widened and he held his hands up as if in defense. "Back off or my big floppy feet will stomp you into a million wax pieces."
C.J. smiled and shook her head at him. "Lighten up, Toby. Everybody is going to look ridiculous...We'll all look ridiculous together."
Toby mumbled his reply. "I hate nothing more than the thought of looking ridiculous with all of you."
C.J. smiled, as she shoved Toby out the door.
* * * * *
Down the hall, Mallory was busy helping her father, Leo, into the rest of his costume. She smiled at him. "Oh, you look so cute, Dad."
Leo rolled his eyes at his daughter. "Mal, if you use the word 'cute' one more time when referring to me, I swear I'll cut you out of my will."
Mallory grinned and then stood back, taking in his appearance. Leo was dressed head to toe in light brown fur, with a white belly at his center. His head was covered with brown fur and large, floppy ears hung down close to his shoulders. His hands were also gloved in white fur and now resembled paws...He would have looked like a cuddly puppy, except for the near permanent scowl now upon his face.
Mallory walked up to him and petted his head. "You be a good puppy tonight, okay?"
Leo smiled insincerely. "Being only a puppy and all, I'm afraid I might not be able to stop my jaws from somehow finding the leg of a certain tights-clad staffer."
Mallory's eyes narrowed at her father. "Dad, you better leave Sam alone tonight."
Leo feigned innocence. "Who said anything about, Sam? My what a suspicious mind you have...You must have gotten that from your mother."
Mallory smiled at her father. "Yes, I must have. And you should know a little something about puppies already, seeing as you've spent so much time in the doghouse."
Leo shook his head, a smile on his lips. "Look at the way she talks to her father."
Leo turned around and looked at himself in the mirror. "And look at how the President repays me for all of my loyal service...All of the years of friendship and advice I've given him...All of the time I spent getting him elected into office...All of that and *this* is my reward."
Mallory laughed, as she placed a hand on her father's shoulder. "Oh stop being so dramatic, Dad...It wouldn't kill you to learn how to have a little fun."
Leo grinned at her. "You don't know that, it just might."
Mallory shook her head and walked towards the door. "I'll see you at the party, Dad."
She left her father's office and walked down the hall, pausing at the open door of Sam's office. She smiled as she watched him. He was standing in front of a mirror that hung on the inside of his closet door. His hands were at his hips and he was posing in the mirror, a smile spread across his lips. Mallory listened carefully when she heard the soft mumble of his voice.
"Unhand her, you ruffian!...I am Robin Hood!"
Mallory placed a hand to her mouth, so that Sam would not hear her laughter. She continued to watch and listen to him, as he removed a plastic sword from his side and held it out in front of him. He spoke, his voice rising.
"You're no match for me!...If it's a duel you want, then it's a duel you'll get!...I am Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves, I never back down from a challenge!"
Mallory tried desperately to control her laughter, as Sam gracefully swished the sword back and forth. She, however, lost her battle and a rather loud chuckle emerged from her mouth.
Sam stopped in mid-swish and slowly turned to his side. His gaze fell upon Mallory and his mouth dropped open slightly. His eyes registered the horror he felt. He struggled to find the right words, but instead only came up with, "A fly."
Mallory's eyes narrowed in confusion. "Excuse me, Sam? Did you say 'a fly'?"
Sam nodded and spoke nervously. "Yes, yes I did. I...I was trying to kill a fly...with the sword...That's what I was doing...just...just now."
Mallory smiled at him. "Oh, that's what you were doing. So swords instead of fly swatters are the insect squashers of choice in the White House?"
Sam shook his head and uttered a soft. "No, my fly swatter's in the shop."
Mallory laughed, shaking her head. "Sam."
He slowly relented and nodded. He muttered in an embarrassed tone, "I...I was...I was just getting in character."
Sam tried to smile, but failed miserably. His face reddened as he realized that his sword was still in mid-air. He slowly lowered it to his side. Mallory grinned widely as she entered the room. "I think that you are more than in character already."
Sam smiled easily now, a weird sense of pride washing over him.
Mallory's eyes perused him. He was wearing a brown suede vest, with a thin white shirt beneath it. A skirt-like piece of apparel of the same suede covered his legs to just above the knee and a belt was fastened securely at his waist. His legs wore dark green tights and his feet brown suede shoes. A pointy hat of the same color suede was perched atop his head, a green feather sticking out of it. A brown leather sheath sat at his side, which served to hold his sword. A strap fell across his chest, which held his bow and arrows in place at his back.
Mallory found the outfit to be strangely sexy and she approached him with that look in her eyes. Sam swallowed hard. "You...You really think I look like Robin Hood?"
She nodded, as she reached him. Mallory fingered his shirt and ran her index finger down his chest. "Oh yeah."
Sam nodded, his words emerging awkwardly. "And am I to take this touching of my body to mean you find it sexy?"
Mallory leaned in and whispered into his ear. "Definitely."
Sam grinned and nodded. "In that case, this is *definitely* not going back to the rental store."
Mallory nodded, a small laugh following out of her mouth. "See, now this is nice. You've accepted your costume assignment and tried to have fun with it. Everyone else, my father included, is doing nothing but whine."
Sam smiled. "In their defense, I got the coolest costume assignment."
Mallory nodded in agreement, as Sam continued in a ramble. "Although, I was a little wary at first, too. I mean, not every guy can pull off an outfit like this. And then Toby made me feel insecure about my legs...Which I should have expected, since he's bitter about the whole clown thing...and Pokemon, I think...But then I realized that my legs have good definition and-..."
"Sam," Mallory interrupted him.
"Yes," Sam replied quickly.
"Shut up," Mallory stated with a smile.
"Okay," Sam responded, with a trace of bewilderment in his voice.
"And kiss me," Mallory demanded in a breathy whisper.
"Okay," Sam said, a grin creeping onto his face.
Then he slowly lowered his lips to hers, capturing them in a soft kiss.
When they parted, he finally noticed her costume. He smiled at her. "A nurse, huh?"
Mallory smiled. "Yup. You like?"
Sam nodded, as he took her in. She was wearing a very short white dress, with panty hose and high heels to match. A little white hat sat atop her head and a stethoscope hung around her neck.
"Oh yeah, I like. And that one's not going back to the store either," he replied enthusiastically.
Mallory smiled mischievously. "I'm a step ahead of you, Mr. Seaborn...This baby is already bought and paid for."
Sam grinned in surprise and spoke slowly. "Well, I hope that stethoscope isn't going back either because it could come in handy down the road...You're *already* giving me heart palpitations."
Mallory laughed, before kissing him again and saying, "Then this costume has *already* paid for itself."
Sam nodded with a smile and then took Mallory's hand, leading her out of his office.
* * * * *
A few doors down, Donna was doing the same thing C.J. had been doing minutes before.
"Josh! Open the door!"
"No!" The muffled reply came from behind the door.
"The President will not be pleased if you are late!"
"I have decided that I value my dignity more than this job." Josh replied.
Donna smiled slightly. "Josh, you lost your dignity the moment I found you lying on the floor with panties around your neck."
Behind the door, Josh nodded in agreement and then sighed.
"True, but that was a private humiliation...I prefer my humiliations to be private."
Donna stomped her foot in frustration. "Joshua Lyman, if you do not open this door this instant, I am going to start singing that song you hate."
"Then open the door."
"Fine, you leave me no choice...Let's see...How does the chorus go? Oh yeah...'Upside, inside out, she's livin' la vida loca...She'll push and pull you down...Livin' la vida loca...Her lips are-'..."
"Stop! Just stop, please! I'll open the door, I'll open the door." Josh's irritated voice interjected.
Donna smiled proudly at herself. Josh finally opened the door and held his index finger up to her.
"Never, ever do that again."
"I knew you hated that song." Donna replied.
"Yes, I do, but that's not why you must never, ever do that again."
"Because I hate your voice."
"My voice? Why?" Donna's eyes narrowed at him.
Josh ran a hand along his forehead and closed his eyes as he spoke.
"Because your voice makes nails on a chalkboard seem like music to my ears, Donna."
Donna's eyes shone at him, a hint of anger present in them.
"I happen to have a very nice voice, Joshua. It is not my fault that you have no taste."
"Oh I have taste. It's my hearing that you damaged." Josh replied sarcastically, with a grin upon his lips.
Donna rewarded him with a goodhearted slap on the arm, during which she finally noticed his costume. She tried to hold in her laughter, as her eyes surveyed his appearance. It was simple: He wore a huge, red apple-shaped cotton costume, with holes for his legs and arms.
Donna tried to speak as sincerely as possible. "You look great, Josh."
Josh looked down at his costume, suddenly aware of how ridiculous he looked. "Nice try, but I know I look like an idiot...I feel like one, too."
Donna grinned. "It's about time you looked the part."
Josh threw her an insincere grin. "Well, thank you very much. Your support never fails to overwhelm me, Donna."
"Well, what did you want me to say? That you don't look like an idiot?"
Josh shrugged. "I don't know. A 'Josh, I know this is hard for you, but you're the best apple I've ever seen' would've been nice."
Donna smiled. "Josh, I know this is-..."
Josh interrupted her with a hand held up. "Too little, too late."
Donna shrugged and held up the hat she'd been holding. "Here's your stem and leaf cap."
Josh rolled his eyes. "As if this costume wasn't already embarrassing enough."
Donna smiled, as she came closer to him. She pulled the elastic string and placed it around his chin. She adjusted the cap so that it sat slightly askew atop head. "Perfect. You're all set." Donna announced, as she stepped back.
It was during this time that Josh finally noticed her belly dancer costume. Donna looked gorgeous in a gold and purple sequined pants and halter top set. Her finely toned stomach was accentuated nicely, as the pants began just below her navel and the top began just below her breasts. The halter top was quite low-cut, leaving little, but enough, to the imagination. Hanging from her halter top, were strings of faux white pearls that dangled in drapes across her stomach. A crown of gold sequins and white pearls sat atop her head, with a short gauzy gold veil falling over her blonde hair, which had been swept up into a mass of curls.
Josh swallowed around the lump in his throat, as he absorbed her. Donna spoke, as she twirled in front of him. "So what do you think?"
Josh was struggling to form a coherent thought, so he blurted out the first thing that came to his mind.
"'Glisteny'...You look very 'glisteny'." Josh mumbled, while rubbing at the back of his neck.
"'Glisteny'? That's not even a word, Josh." Donna replied, a trace of disappointment in her voice.
"Yes, it is."
"No, it's not, Joshua."
Josh shrugged, as he forced himself to look away from her. He was suddenly aware of the fact that he was beginning to sweat profusely...And he didn't think it was because of the costume. He tried to speak nonchalantly.
"Hey, it was compliment."
"If that's what you consider a compliment, then I think you need to look the word up in the dictionary." Donna responded.
Josh sighed, while rubbing at his face.
"You practically blinded me, Donna. If that's not 'glisteny', then I don't know what is."
"Fine, I'm 'glisteny, but that still doesn't qualify as a compliment."
Josh rolled his eyes. "Geez, fishing for compliments...I never expected that of you."
Donna sighed in defeat, before grabbing his arm and dragging him towards the door. "Oh just forget it...Let's go."
Josh sighed in relief, as he wiped at his brow.
* * * * * *
Josh and Donna met up with Sam and Mallory in the hallway. Mallory and Donna began to talk right away, quickly walking ahead of the guys. Josh and Sam stopped, sizing each other up.
Sam smiled. "We look good, don't we?"
"Not gonna work this time, Sam." Josh said, shaking his head.
Sam shrugged. "Speak for yourself, I look sexy...I already got the 'Mallory seal of approval'."
Josh sighed. "Well, I look like an idiot...I already got the 'Donna seal of disapproval'."
Sam looked at him once again and nodded. "Yeah, I've got to go with her on that one."
Josh threw his hands up in exasperation. "Does anyone around here know how to speak words of comfort?! Anyone?...They don't have to be true, they just have to be comforting!"
Sam shrugged, placing his hand on Josh's shoulder. "Sorry, buddy. I got nothing."
"How is that possible? You write speeches for a living...You put words in *other* people's mouths...You're a lawyer, a politician, you lie for a living...How then is it that you have nothing to offer me?" Josh asked in agitation.
Sam shrugged once again. "It's a mystery to me as well."
Josh sighed, as the two of them kept walking. He quietly mumbled to himself. "And the worst thing is that she looks incredible and I look idiotic...Kill me now."
* * * * * *
Mallory, Sam, Josh and Donna all entered the large formal dining room at the President's residence. It was already filled with quite a few guests. The room was awash in Halloween decorations. Orange and black balloons filled each corner of the room, while streamers of the same color gathered at the center of the ceiling where the chandelier hung. The walls were covered with familiar Halloween pictures, such as witches and ghosts. Small pumpkin lanterns hung from the ceiling, giving the room a strange, but comfortable glow.
Sam and Josh's eyes lit up when they spotted Toby and C.J. across the room. They were standing near the buffet table. Sam and Josh left the women and hurriedly walked over to their friends and colleagues. Toby and C.J.'s backs were turned to them, so they were about to be ambushed.
Sam spoke first. "Ah, if it isn't Bozo, the Clown, and his sidekick, Scarlet the Stick."
Josh smiled, as Toby and C.J. scowled at Sam. Josh spoke next. "Hey, Toby, I love what you've done with your hair. It really complements your frown. And, C.J, what an exquisite hat. Where did you get it?"
C.J. and Toby laughed sarcastically at them both. Toby spoke through his insincere laugh. "Oh, you two are funny...Very funny, especially for two people who look like a bird in tights and a bloated tomato."
Josh and Sam clenched their teeth. Josh was the first one to speak. "I'm an apple, Toby!...An apple!"
Sam's delayed and equally lame response came next. "I don't look like a bird!"
Toby grinned. "Oh you don't...Robin?"
Sam's eyes fell to the floor. "Okay, so I have a bird name, but..."
"And a feather in your cap, " C.J. interjected.
Sam was at a loss for a rebuttal, so he blurted out a weak, childish comeback. "Oh yeah...Well, at least I don't look like a stupid, mean clown and a big, tall red crayon!"
Toby laughed at Sam's simplistic and infantile comeback, as Josh rolled his eyes. Toby spoke. "Oh, you got me there, Sam...Put me right in my place...Now I'm too scared to give you a wedgie and steal your lunch money."
Sam huffed and then walked away in frustration. Josh smiled at C.J. and Toby and spoke softly. "He does have the coolest costume, you know."
C.J. nodded, while folding her arms across her chest. "I know, that's why we hate him."
Toby nodded in agreement and responded with annoyance. "And why we must mock him relentlessly."
Josh laughed, while shaking his head.
* * * * * *
Mallory and Donna took their seats at a table. Sam was now talking to his assistant, Kathy, across the room from them and Josh was conversing with Toby. Mallory noticed that Donna's eyes hadn't left Josh's figure.
"He's a great guy," Mallory said, causing Donna to turn to look at her.
Donna responded with a slight smile. "Yeah, Sam is."
"Not Sam...I mean, yes, Sam is a great guy, but that's not who I was talking about," Mallory clarified.
Donna looked at her in confusion. "Then who did you mean?"
Mallory smiled. "Josh, of course."
Donna nodded, a little surprised. "Yeah, Josh can be great...Sometimes...When he isn't wrapped up in his little Josh world."
Mallory smiled softly at her. "I see the way he looks at you."
Donna's eyes widened at her. "What do you mean?"
"I mean that sometimes I can see in his eyes that his world revolves around you." Mallory stated with a grin.
Donna tried her best to laugh Mallory off, but the words still struck her. "Mallory, you have a very active imagination. Josh feels nothing like that for me...I can tell."
Mallory shook her head. "Let me guess...When you asked him how you looked in your costume, he got all tongue tied and said something stupid, right?"
Donna's eyebrows peaked and she nodded. "Yeah, how did you know that?"
Mallory smiled. "Because guys always say something stupid when a woman takes their breath away...I should know, I'm dating Sam."
Donna laughed, while Mallory's words dug deeper into her head. "I just don't know."
Mallory grinned and patted her hand. "Well, I do."
* * * * * *
C.J. was standing by herself at the buffet table, scooping a chip into some vegetable dip. She was counting down the minutes until this party was over because she was having a horrible time. Suddenly, she was startled by a voice that came from behind her.
"I was right...Red crayons are the sexiest of them all."
C.J. turned around to face Danny. She had just finished stuffing a chip into her mouth and some of the dip was now hanging from her lip without her knowledge. She smiled flirtatiously at him. She figured that she might as well throw caution to the wind that night and blatantly flirt right back at him.
"Oh you think so, do you?"
"C.J-..." Danny tried to interrupt.
"I think you may be right, Danny." C.J. grinned.
"C.J., you have-..."
"For the first time, you just might be right," C.J said, while coming closer to him.
"C.J.!" Danny practically screamed, finally halting her speech. He spoke softly now and gestured to her lip. "Red crayons maybe sexy, but *that* is not."
C.J. lifted her fingers to her mouth and wiped at them, as she shook her head in embarrassment.
"That's what I get for trying to flirt back at you."
Danny smiled at her. "Don't let that stop you from giving it another go."
C.J. shook her head at him. "Oh, no. For my sake, it's better if you keep throwing yourself at me and I keep shooting you down."
"That doesn't mean we have to stop those impromptu kisses you're so fond of giving me though, does it?" Danny asked innocently.
C.J. smiled and shook her head. "No, those can stay."
Danny grinned and nodded happily. It was at this point that C.J. really noticed his costume. He was wearing the same costume as she was, except in yellow.
C.J. sighed. "I thought you said you were going to be a Burnt Sienna."
"Changed my mind...The Burnt Sienna didn't bring out the color of my eyes."
C.J. laughed, as she shook her head at him. "Why yellow then?"
Danny smiled. "Well, I figured with you being red and me being yellow, we could maybe 'mix together' sometime and make orange."
C.J. chuckled at him. "Oh, Danny, you really know how to woo a girl."
Danny nodded and whispered into her ear. "And that's without even trying."
C.J. swallowed hard, as Danny's lips tickled her ear lobe. She spoke nervously. "Drink...I need a drink...Preferably an alcoholic one."
With that, C.J. left the side of a grinning Danny.
* * * * * *
President and Mrs. Bartlet stood outside the dining room about to enter. Abbey was adjusting a part of his costume.
"Jed, stop moving," Abbey demanded in irritation.
"Oh, Abbey, why did you have to make me wear this ridiculous costume?" The President whined.
Abbey smiled at him, "It's your punishment."
"I'm the President of the United States, it won't look very appropriate," he countered.
"It wasn't appropriate to order your loyal, hardworking staff to attend this party, but you did it anyway, Jed."
"But-.." He tried to interject.
"It wasn't appropriate to assign them embarrassing costumes and force them to wear them, but you, my dear, did it anyway." Abbey stated.
The President sighed. "The fact that I am President and can do almost anything I want within reason holds no water with you, does it?"
Abbey grinned, while touching his cheek lightly. "No, it doesn't. Just be thankful that I am here to put you in your place whenever need be. If I weren't, only God knows what you'd have those poor people doing. You'd probably have them walking around the West Wing on stilts, while juggling knives."
Bartlet's face brightened, a smile now occupying his lips. "Now *that* is a good idea...*That* is inspired."
Abbey shook her head at him, as she grabbed his hand and led him into the room.
* * * * *
The guests rose to their feet and turned their attention to the President and First Lady as they entered. They were surprised by the President's costume, but they did their best not to let it show.
The President waved at them and gestured for them to be seated. "The First Lady and I would just like to thank you all for coming tonight. I know some of you would rather be other places, doing other things, but I am glad to have you here with us. Please, relax and have fun...You all deserve it."
The group gave him a quick round of applause, before beginning to mingle. The President and First Lady began to walk over to a table that seated C.J., Toby, Leo, Sam, Josh, Donna and Mallory.
Sam elbowed Josh as he approached. "Do you have any idea why he's wearing what he's wearing?"
Josh whispered his reply. "No, but I'm willing to bet that Abbey had something to do with it."
The President and Mrs. Bartlet finally reached them and he smiled at them all. "Ah, I see you're all here. Now I can save that candy corn lesson for next year."
They all chuckled lightly. Bartlet looked at Leo, a grin upon his face. "And you seem to have assumed the role of puppy quite nicely, Leo."
Leo smiled insincerely at him. "Yes, sir, I have. How can I ever thank you for this opportunity?"
The President smiled. "Not shedding on the carpet will suffice, Leo."
They all laughed and then an uncomfortable silence fell between them. Josh's hesitant voice broke it. "Sir...um I...speaking on the behalf....I was just wondering...why are you dressed like..um-..."
The President smiled at him. "Like a fairy, Josh?"
"Yes, sir," he responded.
The President gestured to Abbey. "That would be the doing of my lovely wife."
Josh and Sam exchanged knowing glances. The rest of the staff perused him more closely. President Bartlet was dressed in a pink silk top and a flower petal shaped skirt, that glittered with a silvery sheen. On his legs, he wore pale pink tights and slippers made of a slightly darker shade. A blonde curly wig sat atop his head, with a small rhinestone crown on top of it. In his hand, he held a long wand with a silver star at its end.
Toby struggled to maintain his composure, as he asked his question. "Would you mind if I asked why?...Not that I don't think you look smashing, sir."
Abbey responded to the question, with a smile on her lips. "It's his punishment. He has the power to force you all to do embarrassing things and I have that same power over him."
The group smiled and laughed at the First Lady's actions. Leo spoke to her. "I think I am speaking on behalf of all of us when I say, thank you, Abbey."
The rest of the staff echoed his sentiments. The President smiled slightly and held his hand up. "Before you all go canonizing her as a saint, remember who you work for."
Abbey smiled and shook her head at him. "And you remember whose bed you sleep in."
The President smiled, a chuckle following out of his mouth. He spoke to the staff. "She gets me with that one every time...I don't have a leg to stand on."
The staff laughed, as the President and First Lady turned on their heels and headed across the room.
C.J. smiled at them and said, "Seeing the President like that makes this all worthwhile."
Toby grinned and commented, "Seeing the President like that makes my *life* worthwhile."
The others nodded in agreement, laughs emerging from their mouths.
To Be Continued...
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